How to Tenderize Steak with Salt

Tenderizing steak with salt is a straightforward process. Some of you think salt will make steak even tougher, but no. In fact, salt acts as a natural meat tenderizer.

So if you bought a lean cut of steak without much marbling, don’t worry. I will show how to tenderize steak with salt step-by-step. Make sure to read the article carefully because there are a few things you need to consider before salting your chosen cut of meat.

How To Tenderize Steak With Salt: Step-by-Step

tenderizing steak with kosher salt
Tenderizing steak using kosher salt

Salt is a fantastic ingredient. It’s widely used as a steak tenderizer; however, most home cooks do not know about the potential of this amazing ingredient. So here’s why salt is so unique. There’re two different methods of tenderizing steak with salt. First is dry brine, which basically involves sprinkling kosher salt over the steak and letting it sit for a couple of hours or more. The salt will draw out the moisture from the steak and dissolve in steaks juice. Later that same moisture, together with dissolved salt, will be reabsorbed back into the steak. This process is called osmosis, and it’s happening because of the difference in concentration between saltwater outside of the steak and pure water inside of it.

The second method is wet brine. A wet brine is when you soak steak in a saltwater solution for several hours or even more. But since it’s a more complex tenderizing method, I’ll skip it this time.

I’m going to show you a dry brine method since it is simpler and doesn’t require any additional ingredients:

Step 1: Choose The Righ Steak Cut

Start with the proper cut of steak. There’s no point in tenderizing tender cuts of steak because they’re already tender enough. The best cuts of steak for tenderizing are the tougher ones like flank steak, skirt steak, and hanger steak.

Step 2: Choose The Right Salt

Now you may think that salt is salt, and there’s absolutely no difference between different types. Well, that’s not true. There are many different types of salt. Ones with large grains and others are very fine. At the same time, saltiness levels are different depending on the salt type. So which one is the best for tenderizing steak? Coarse salts, like kosher salt or sea salt, will work best because the larger grains will help break down the steak’s muscle fibers faster without making the steak too salty.

However, if you choose too fine salt, like table salt, it will dissolve too much into the steak and make it salty. And there’s no way to get rid of the saltiness. I have learned it the hard way. So be sure to use coarse salt.

Step 3: Sprinkle Salt All Over The Steak

Take your favorite steak cut and sprinkle it with kosher salt all over the steak. Once you have done that, take some plastic wrap or parchment paper and tightly wrap the steak. It will help draw out more moisture from the steak and create an excellent environment for osmosis.

Step 4: Let Steak Dry Brine In The Fridge

Now it’s time for the magic to happen. Place your steak in the fridge and let it dry brine for at least two hours, depending on the steak size and steak cut you use. Leave a large cut of steak overnight since it takes time for the salt to break down those tough muscle fibers.

Step 5: Pat Dry Steak

After your steak has spent enough time in a dry brine – it’s time to dry it with a paper towel. Be sure to remove all of the excess salt and moisture from the steak’s exterior. When the steak is dry, it develops a nice brown crust when searing. Also, removing moisture and salt will prevent the steak from becoming too salty.

What Kind of Steak Should You Use?

The best steaks to tenderize are ones that are tough. For instance, flank steak, skirt steak, hanger, chuck eye, and top round are among the best steaks that are going to benefit from dry brine. Of course, You can use salt as a tenderizer for both tough steak cuts and tender ones. That is entirely up to you. However, there’s no reason to tenderize a tenderloin overnight when it’s already the most tender steak cut you can buy. A quick dry-brine is not going to do any harm. In fact, seasoning tender steak cut 20 to 30 minutes before cooking will only make it even more delicious.

What is wonderful about lean steaks is that they usually come from areas where the muscle is heavily worked. These cuts are packed with flavor and cost way less compared to more premium cuts like ribeye. However, for most people, a flank steak is a bit too hard to chew if not tenderized. Tenderizing steak with salt is an excellent way to break down the muscle fibers and make them more tender without affecting the flavor.


What is the best steak for tenderizing?

The best steak cuts for tenderizing are ones that are tough and lean. Flank steak, skirt steak, hanger, chuck eye, and top round are great choices since they will benefit most from dry brine.

Do you rinse steak after salting?

There’s no need to rinse the steak after salting it. However, do not forget to remove excess moisture and salt before cooking, preferably with a piece of paper towel or dry cloth.

Does salt toughen steak?

Salt does not toughen steak. In fact, it’s an excellent way to tenderize tough and lean steak cuts. However, make sure to use the correct type of salt (kosher salt) and remove all excess moisture before cooking.

Does salt make steak more tender?

Yes, salt is an excellent way to tenderize steak. It breaks down the muscle fibers making the steak more tender and juicy.

Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas
Renaldas Kaveckas is an accomplished chef with over a decade of experience in the culinary world, having worked in esteemed, high-end restaurants across Europe. With a talent for combining traditional techniques and innovative flair, Renaldas has refined his signature style under the mentorship of respected European chefs. Recently, Renaldas has expanded his impact beyond the kitchen by sharing his expertise through his online platform. Dedicated to inspiring culinary professionals and food enthusiasts, he offers expert advice, innovative recipes, and insightful commentary on the latest gastronomic trends.
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